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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State swimming & diving head coach Tim Murphy announced the addition of two coaches to his staff Monday, as Jeff DiNicola takes over as the program’s diving coach and Nittany Lion alum Josh Graham joins as an assistant swimming coach.
“I am excited to bring these two distinguished coaches to our staff,” said Murphy. “Both bring proven track records of success in terms of both athletic and academic accomplishments, and we’re looking forward to having them get to work with our student-athletes.”
DiNicola arrives at Penn State after coaching for the past year-and-a-half with the Mustangs in the Sun diving team in Dallas, Texas, and also brings a wealth of major conference coaching experience from stints and Arkansas and Nebraska. He served as the Arkansas diving coach for three seasons from 2013-16 and coached the Razorbacks’ first NCAA qualifier since 2008. In 2014, DiNicola had 100 percent Zone Qualification for all his divers and had two divers achieve career bests at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships.
“I would like to thank Tim Murphy, [Assistant Athletic Director] Jenn James and all the athletic staff that I met and were a part of giving me the opportunity to be the new diving coach,” said DiNicola. “I look forward to building on the great diving that is here and take the program to the next level and beyond. On my visit, I felt that Penn State swimming and diving was the right fit for me, and I also felt I was the right fit for Penn State.
“The catch phase of the ‘why?’ that the athletic program has fits my values of coaching. My ‘why?’ is so much greater than just the win. When you do things right, the many wins along the way are a byproduct of great effort, constant work, and high standards that take us all far in life. Watch out swimming and diving world, here come the Nittany Lions!”
DiNicola coached at Nebraska from 2003-05, coaching multiple NCAA Zone Diving Championship divers and an NCAA qualifier in 2005. He also coached at New Mexico from 2000-03, building the university’s first diving program in five years. DiNicola was named Mountain West Conference Diving Coach of the Year in 2003 and placed divers at NCAA Zone Diving Championships each of his three seasons.
“Jeff is the right coach to continue building on the progress our diving program has made,” said Murphy. “Jeff’s coaching beliefs and values mirror those of Penn State and we are thrilled to have him join our team.”
From 1999-2000, DiNicola coached at his alma mater, Southwest Missouri State, where he earned Missouri Valley Coach of the Year in his first season. He coached a male MVC Diver of the Year and a female diver who placed second on the 1-meter and 3-meter boards.
In addition to running age-group diving programs at New Mexico and Nebraska, DiNicola was an assistant diving coach at Longhorn Aquatics in Austin, Texas, prior to Arkansas and coached at Rio Rancho High School from 2006-12. While at Rio Rancho, DiNicola coached a top-three finisher in the state meet each year, including two state champions.
As a student-athlete, DiNicola attended Southwest Missouri State from 1996-99, lettering each year. Named MVC Diver of the Year twice, DiNicola also earned All-MVC honors three consecutive years and set an SMS school record on the 3-meter board. He received his degree from SMS in 2000 in drafting and design - architectural and mechanical focus, and a minor in construction.
DiNicola originally hails for Fort Worth, Texas.
Graham returns to his alma mater after serving on the staff of the Davidson swimming & diving program since the summer of 2012. He was responsible for the teams’ middle-distance and distance groups.
“I'm incredibly grateful and excited to have the opportunity to make my return to The Pennsylvania State University,” said Graham. “I'd like to thank Athletic Director Sandy Barbour, Tim Murphy, and the rest of the coaching staff for trusting me to execute the mission of our university and continue to enrich the lives of our student-athletes. I'd also like to thank [Assistant Athletic Directors] Jenn James and Matt Stolberg for taking the time to meet with me on my trip to campus and for being so welcoming.
“Our support staff here is world class. They are one of the many reasons I chose to attend Penn State as a student-athlete, and made it a no-brainer to come back as a coach. It's incredibly emotional to have the opportunity to bring my family back to a place that has meant so much to me. WE ARE!”
During his tenure at Davidson, Graham coached 15 conference champions and saw his athletes break more than 30 school records. He coached, a 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year nominee, who boasted the second-highest average improvement from seed time at the 2017 NCAA Championships and was an Atlantic 10 record-tying, three-time “Most Outstanding Performer” at the conference championship meet. In his first season at Davidson, Graham helped guide the men’s squad to the 2013 Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) Conference Championship, headlined by the CCSA Male Swimmer of the Year.
“Josh’s experience will add a needed dimension to our program,” said Murphy. “His familiarity and passion for the swimming & diving program and university is a great bonus, and we are excited to bring him home.”
Graham also led recruiting efforts for the Davidson men, bringing in the fastest incoming freshmen in school history in 10 out of 14 events. The men’s team has also been successful in the classroom, posting top-15 team grade-point averages in each of the past four seasons while producing it’s first-ever Google Cloud Academic All-American.
Prior to Davidson, Graham served as the lead senior coach at South Eastern Virginia Aquatics (SEVA) in Newport News, Virginia. At SEVA, Graham worked primarily with swimmers transitioning to the Senior Level. In 2013, his 13 & 14 boys’ squad broke Virginia’s 20-year-old state records in the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle relays for both long and short course. The relays ranked among the top-8 in the nation and earned Graham a position as a Zone Select Team coach with Virginia Swimming.
Graham earned a Bachelor of Science in criminology in 2009 from Penn State, where he was a consistent contributor to the Nittany Lions’ success at the Big Ten Championship meet all four years. He is a former Virginia state record holder in the 200-yard freestyle – a mark that was later broken by his good friend & teammate, former American record holder David Walters. A certified ASCA level-3 coach, Graham hails from Newport News.
Check GoPSUSports.com for coverage of the Penn State swimming and diving teams. Follow the team on Twitter at @PennStateSWIM and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/pennstateswimminganddiving.